Artificial Intelligence Is Your Next Sustainable Competitive Advantage. Let’s Start With The Black Box.

For decades, companies have been searching for sustainable competitive advantages—but not many can claim that they have achieved this. Now, one big opportunity lies ahead of us and the race has only just begun. Artificial intelligence and deep learning is powering up the next level of digital transformation. Those who can transform their organization beyond simply adapting technologies and focus instead on changing the work culture and processes to being digital first will be in better positions. It has become apparent that AI may very well be part of the solution to achieving this. Think about it this way: the company is the algorithm; the algorithm runs the enterprise; AI powers the super algorithms.

Before jumping into the game…
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AI Is Causing Structural Changes In Industry Structures. This Is A 10 Year Race. Are You Ready?

We are experiencing the biggest disruption in business history since the introduction of computing and the internet. AI is broadly defined as machines that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, and complex decision-making. This definition, however, is not yet complete; the term will further evolve as we push the boundaries of cognitive computing and consultants race to invent new buzzwords. Meanwhile, CEOs and their executive advisors are thinking and talking about how they are using AI to create new competitive advantages. In just the last 10 days, two CEOs of two large global companies were telling me their companies’ future is all about AI….
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The Three Levels of Leadership

I have been mentoring leaders for decades, from the very young high potentials to far more seasoned individuals. Regardless of age or experience, there are always certain questions that are top of mind in my approach, like whether they are trainable or have the courage to be a leader and not only a manager. Being a manager is relatively easy; being a leader is hard. It means that you cannot please everybody. It means you have to balance between different interests. It means you have to stand up against the forces that could make your organization mediocre. It means managing politics and power point are just part of your daily routine.

Before I decide to invest…
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Management Consultants Want Design; Welcome To The D-School And B-school Club.

There was an interesting article written by fellow innovation practitioner Timothy Morey, from global design and strategy consultancy frog, on why management consulting firms are getting into design. It tries to explain how traditional management consultants are adopting the mantle of design and conducting journey mapping, experience mapping, and even customer experience design.

Welcome to the club. Seriously.

Morey is right by pointing out that designers do not see the world as a fixed canvas – that’s why I like teaching design classes. The students are an optimistic (and happy) bunch, who see the world as a range of possibilities that can be crafted and bent to their will (in Morey’s words). This is true, but the…
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Digital Transformation Is Less About Digital

A few industrial leaders have always been at the forefront of innovation and set the trends for their respective industries, but banking and financial services are just going through their transformation journeys. They are all driving digital transformation throughout their enterprise with a relentless commitment to rethink every asset, process, and architecture of these enterprises. Digital transformation is widely talked about, with consultants lining up to show endless PowerPoint slides of the state of the digital revolution that they claim boardrooms cannot ignore. No industry is immune to the risk of being “Uberized” (an overused term), and companies need to become 100% digital at the core. There is no question about the external forces of change, such…
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Are You One Of Those Top Performers That Are Now Consumed By Endless Meaningless Meetings And Operating On Outdated Management Theories?

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The very idea of ‘management’ itself is changing and many core concepts are becoming irrelevant. According to Henri Fayol (father of modern management methods) management is to forecast, to plan, to organize, to command, to coordinate and control activities of others.” It seems the what has not changed, but the how has. The way we work is changing and machines are slowly taking over making or at least influencing important management decisions for us.

The increased complexity in the interconnectivity of organizations and individuals to a point companies have almost given up on any org chart. It’s difficult to fully understand the sequence and system-level behavior, which makes the true risk exposure of…
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My Best Advice To All of You High Potential Talents: Don’t Try Too Hard.

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Throughout my career as an executive coach, and mentor of young people including fresh MBAs, creative designers and motivated managers, there has been one common piece of advice that I always give: Don’t try too hard. Of course, this seems contradictory to what we usually hear, especially when the greatest B-schools and D-schools in the world are encouraging their students to try their best and push beyond their own limits. Every day they are asked to try harder, to achieve excellence and perfection. That’s the academic world.

However, perfection is nearly impossible and often useless. Most of the time, emphasizing perfection acts as an obstacle to progress. A perfectionist makes a terrible strategist or manager. And…
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What to Do When Your Growth Stalls?

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In business, a growth curve is certainly a great ride for executives, managers, and employees. They enjoy an expanding market, healthy gross margins, and unlimited demand for their products and services. For public companies, a high valuation also opens up an appetite for more aggressive acquisition. But all growth eventually comes to an end, and management will quickly shift their focus to managing costs, putting any non-core play projects on hold, and delaying major systems upgrades.

Even the most innovative companies in the world eventually need to wrestle with this challenge. So what are the typical signs for companies heading into an ex-growth phase? Let’s take Apple as an example. Unit growth is likely to come increasingly…
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The Real PPE: Profit, Purpose, and Empathy.

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The PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics) degree is probably the most sought-after to get you places – at least in the UK, and particularly if you want to get into politics. PPE at Oxford University has been preparing people for important jobs for decades, or at least that’s how it’s seen. The list of those who studied it includes David Cameron, William Hague, Jeremy Hunt, and Philip Hammond. The list goes on with notables like Tony Abbott (former Prime Minister of Australia), Ian Davis (former Global MD of McKinsey), Antony Jenkins (former CEO of Barclays Group), Stephen Hester (for CEO of RBS Group), Liaquat Ali Khan (first Prime Minister of Pakistan), and Abhisit Vejjajiva (former Prime Minister…
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With or Without Us: Strategic Management in the Age of Cognitive Technology.

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Let’s talk strategy. The history of strategic management began when companies had to deal with strategic choices, products and service scope, geographic choices, positioning on the market place, and organization design. It all began in B-schools, and was known as Business Policy when it was first taught at HBS in the 60s, designed to integrate all other courses in the second year. A number of scholars had influenced the topic of strategic management, including the following:

Taylor’s principles of scientific management Robinson and Chamberlin’s economic theories of imperfect competition Schumpeter’s creative destruction Cyert and March’s behavioral theory of the firm

The birth of strategic management can probably be credited to the following three scholars who collectively…
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